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Honoring Pets with Flowers, Plants, Trees and Shrubs

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, May 02, 2015

Animals are true companions for many people and hold a dear place in our hearts.  We take care of them, watch them grow and receive their affection and attention when we need it the most.  Pets come in all shapes, sizes and breeds including cats, dogs, goldfish, parakeets, gerbils, hamsters, lizards, frogs and just about any creature that we can think of who walks or swims the earth.  We treat our fuzzy loved ones with the utmost care because we realize they are more than just an animal, they are our friends that truly solidify themselves in our households as one of the family.   Psychologists reason that it is important to include pets within our lives, particularly for children because they teach responsibility and fellowship.  One factor that is also said to hold positive learning influences for kids who have animals is the hard lesson of accepting life and death.  No one likes to see our beloved animals pass but there is significant research that shows losing a pet prepares the young in a healthier manner than a child who grows up in a pet-less environment.  


Several months ago, my family lost our Siamese cat that not only filled our home with warmth and humor, but also taught my two boys the feeling of mourning.  It was hard, tear-jerking and at the very least, sad but I still believe that this first experience of death allowed them to understand and process their feelings in a better way than if we had no furry loved ones at all.  The question came later as to how we should honor little Ricky so that he would still remain close to our family’s hearts.  After some time spent brainstorming, we came up with a way that not only honored the cat, but would reflect his true spirit in nature.


Ricky was an unusual breed who was half seal point and half chocolate point.  The two varieties were interesting in his genetic make-up giving him a head that resembled a seal from behind and a beautiful gray brown coloring that was seen throughout his silky fur.  We kept these two qualities in mind when we came up with an idea that would properly memorialize the cat in a way that would represent both his beauty and character.  Being a family who loves the outdoors, particularly backyard living, landscaping and gardening, we thought what better way to keep his memory alive than to plant a tree thematic of these attributes? 


You might be thinking you’re overdoing it but really, it’s a very sweet and environmentally protagonist approach to handling the bereavement of a pet who’s passed on.   During the selection process, our family had to keep in mind of the physical attributes of Ricky including his texture, shading and personality.  After mulling over ideas of cherry and magnolia plantings, we finally came to the perfect conclusion- a pussy willow tree.  The buds of the willow are incredibly similar to the smoothness of his coat and the gray chocolate tints that bless the blooms are also a beautiful match to his silky coat.  The pussy willow is eccentric (another trait of the cat) having a posture that hangs down and winds its branches in and on top one each other.  Standing with a slender trunk, the overhang bends down looking similar to an umbrella.  We felt that the dynamic architecture of the willow was a fabulous match to our out-of-the-box kitty who talked loudly whenever excited, danced in circles chasing his tale and possessed a royal appearance with his bright blue eyes and stunning fur coat.  If your bereaving the loss of a pet, you might want to plant a tree in his or her honor too!  You’ll be proud of the memory you’ve erected and feel blessed to watch it bloom every spring. 

 siamese_cat Suzie Canale, Westwood, MA 

Tags: Gardening, Gardening in Boston, #EXFL, Arbor Day, Pets

Garden Planning for 2015

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Apr 24, 2015

As temperatures begin to rise here in Boston, gardeners are wondering what the next trends for group plantings will be this summer?  Window boxes, raised beds and patio pots are all part of your home’s landscaping design so be sure you are ready to plan an attractive design that properly accentuates your property.  Although these creations should show individuality to your tastes, experts have devised a framework to ensure your summer flower’s best performance efforts.  For instance, color, texture and size all effect the final presentation of the plants whether they are being hung from an arbor or rooted within a larger garden plot.  Other factors that are crucial to measure are the specimen’s longevity throughout the season and ability to acclimate in different weather patterns that we know makes New England gardening sometimes a challenge.  As I start to sift through seed catalogues and local nursery websites, I will try to keep these few suggestions in mind in order to build my successful raised garden beds this June. 


Its not always easy choosing the right flowers suitable to the areas those are available to you. Some varieties prefer moist soil while others desire a drier plot, which makes it crucial for you to read the care instructions before buying anything.  Don’t let desire get in the way of your selection process because no matter how much you love a perennial or annual, if you don’t have the proper environment for it to grow, the selection will fail to thrive.  In some circumstances you can manipulate the soil such as making wood or plastic draining containers where you can fill it with the proper material that will enable a wider variety of options for you.  In this case, its smart to get the opinion of a home improvement specialist or florist to help you decide on the material you’ll need for construction. 


Deciding your color palette is really important to pre-planning gardens because it will aid to avoiding an uncomfortable clash once the plants have been plotted.  You don’t want all of that hard work to go to waste on a messy arrangement that will be unattractive in your yard.  One way to develop a blueprint is to get out your paints and start trying out different shades and their combinations with others.  This will allow a large spectrum of diversity and you’ll be able to match most outcomes with the products your greenhouses will have available.  Years ago I met a floral designer who swore that adding white into a brightly mixed assortment of color only worked to separate the flow of the other flowers.  His advice was to keep whites in their own plot to ensure a visually stimulating and appealing presentation.  Other pros encourage a mass array of dark and light blossoms because it illuminates a spectacular burst of flowers, which is exactly what Mother Nature has offered to all of us!

 Suzie Canale

Westwood, MA


Tags: Garden Center, Gardening, Gardening in Boston, #EXFL, herbs, Arbor Day, Earth Day

Gardening Promotes Flexibility In People

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Apr 22, 2015

Doctors say to get outdoors if you want to be healthy and you know what, they’re right!  Studies show that an increase amount of time spent walking in the woods, combing sandy beaches or playing on the lawn with your kids can actually help eradicate illnesses, stress and ailments.  Believing this to be true, I set up an experiment to see if this actually would help my lack of flexibility and backaches that I had been experiencing.  To my surprise, there was no doubt that taking an extra fifteen minutes a day to participate in my favorite outdoor activity actually did wonders for these common problems felt by many.  What was that activity you ask?  Well, gardening of course!  Through a period of six weeks, I not only noticed a clear change but also developed a few tips for others who might be going through the same predicament.  Without strenuous positions or exhausting tasks, flexibility in muscles and depletion in upper and lower framework afflictions can be attained by following a few easy suggestions when enjoying a planting session of your favorite begonias. 


Before bending down to reach for your flat of plants, take a deep breadth from the diaphragm and release the air slowly from your lungs.  It’s sounds strange but professionals reveal that in general, people do not breath enough throughout their day, which can actually cause heightened anxiety and stress.  Think of it as your warm up exercise and you’ll notice right away the decrease in tension within your body.  Once you’ve done this your ready to fully emerge yourself in the “health” of gardening.


                                           photo credit:

Next you’ll want to get going with your potting and digging so remember when kneeling to do this very slowly as to avoid pulling or tearing of the joints.  When bending for multiple plants, bow at the knees instead of a full frontal curve of the back to the ground.  This will ease your way into the motion and give you toning as you repeat this movement throughout your session.


If you aren’t into kneeling by your flowerbeds and you’re not afraid of grass stains, sit your bottom right down on the ground and extend your legs in front of you.  While you are preparing the soil, take a second to stretch your arms as far down across your legs as you feel comfortable doing.  After you get the hang of this, try folding one leg behind you while still keeping the other leg straight.  You will feel a bit of tightening that means that the quad is stretching.  Other positions that are helpful for flexibility include laying your hands behind your back and forming an arch or lifting your arms straight above your head for a complete lengthening of shoulders, biceps and triceps.


                                photo via

Get out there and sample these ways to heighten flexibility and decrease back pain without ever having to leave your backyard.  You won’t believe the difference a good gardening day can do for your flowers and your body.

Tags: Gardening, Garden Roses, Gardening in Boston, #EXFL, exercise, Arbor Day, Earth Day

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